The Park Hotel Kenmare (www.parkkenmare.com) is looking forward to welcoming guests from all over the island of Ireland again this summer. Pre-Covid-19, international guests amounted to 60% of the hotel's summertime bookings, says General Manager TJ Mulcahy. "Last summer we had wonderful guests from every province of the country, and we are hoping to do the same again this year."
Irish staycationers are booking in for extended stays with the Park Hotel, he says. "We are encouraging our guests to stay for longer, so staying for seven nights with two nights complimentary, and that is good for us and good for our guests because it encourages less movement in the hotel. We are a 41 bedroom hotel so we are cosy, comfortable and safe."
Some things may have changed, but one thing has remained the same at the Park Hotel Kenmare. "We always offered a fully serviced breakfast, plated. So we bring your juice, cereal, fruit, pastries and whatever you like to your table, and you can enjoy that with your hot breakfast - be it French toast or eggs Benedict."
The Cork International Hotel and the Metropole Hotel (www.trigonhotels.com) are currently open for essential travel only, but staff have been working away trying to create packages and offerings that will make guests feel special as well as safe, says Sandra Murphy. "We have always been passionate about collaborating with local businesses to show people the best that Cork can offer - and that ethos is more important than ever before."
There is a lot hanging on the next few months for the industry, she says. "We are now focused on that glimmer of hope for the summer of 2021. It must also be said, that the health and safety of our guests and team are always of paramount consideration and so this is something that we will continue to focus on. We certainly had missed welcoming guests into our hotels, however, we are acutely aware of the pain, suffering and hardship experienced by so many over the last year."
Neil Grant is General Manager of the Celtic Ross Hotel in Roscarbery (www.celticrosshotel.com) and he says that the last week has seen a large increase in people enquiring about summer bookings. "We have had a spike on the phone lines and on our website and it is great to see."
This summer will be easier for hotel staff to navigate the new way of hospitality, says Grant. "Last summer, we went into a really busy season, and the entire industry incorporated brand new procedures in order to keep our guests safe. This year, we know how they work, we know what's required, and so in a way, it will be easier. We can't wait to welcome guests back to the hotel."
The main thing that holidaymakers choosing to staycation this year should realise, he says, is that Ireland should not be a second choice for a holiday destination. "Ireland is one of the most beautiful places in the world and we should feel lucky to holiday here. The Celtic Ross is in West Cork and I truly believe you could spend your whole summer here and still have more to explore."
For Tulfarris Hotel and Golf Resort in Blessington, County Wicklow (www.tulfarrishotel.com), lots of families are rebooking stays that may have been delayed last year due to restrictions. This makes their books are looking full for the summer months, according to General Manager Darren Byrne.
"Lots of family staycations over the mid-term breaks have now booked later in the year as people seem to be happy travelling once they feel safe in the environment. We also have a lot of golf groups who would have been booked last year but were unable to travel due to government restrictions. This coupled with weddings which were postponed has resulted in a busy summer ahead."
Guests have very specific requirements, says Byrne. "We are finding that guests are looking for value for money as well as flexibility in the case of having to reschedule bookings. Additional to this during these times it is clear that all guests want to feel safe in the hotel. We offer this by ensuring strict adherence to safety guidelines along with an extensive cleaning/sanitisation schedule in all areas of the property.
Emer Corridan, GM of Cahernane House Hotel in Killarney (www.cahernane.com) says that people are definitely putting the feelers out for what is available this summer. "People are checking availability, and keen to make a booking and to have something to look forward to."
Irish holidaymakers are interested in having an action-packed holiday, she says. "The advantage of Cahernane being at the edge of the Killarney National Park (26,000 hectares to explore), means the outdoors is very easily accessible for hotel guests. And we find guests prefer to stay in the house for the evenings and relax for their free time."
We want to know that they can change their booking, should the need arise, suggests the GM. "Guests want to be able to have the freedom to postpone or cancel should the need arise. We understand the importance of this for our guests and are always happy to reassure then that we will do all we can to help them should they need to make a change."
Pauline Ray, Area Manager with Premier Suites (www.premiersuiteseurope.com) says that the lack of events scheduled in Dublin means that there are lots of great self-catering options available. "We find that the self-catering properties are very popular – they offer contactless check-in and out. Guests also love to have the privacy, space and convenience of their own apartment."
Self-catering options offer a good scenario for holidaymakers who are anxious about clocking up contacts during their holiday. "Guests are looking for safety (Covid procedures are extremely important to them) and the flexibility to cancel at the last minute if needs be."
Aisling Drummond from the family-friendly Clonakilty Park Hotel (www.clonakiltyparkhotel.ie) says that they have had a huge amount of enquiries from holidaymakers recently. "We have seen unprecedented demand in recent days on the phones for July and August, but there is still limited availability remaining in our two-bedroom suites and large family rooms for the much-needed summer holidays! We hope that those who choose West Cork this summer for the first time may never leave these shores again!
A spokesperson for The Europe Hotel & Resort confirmed bookings for summer are being made earlir this year and there is a strong interest in family-friendly holidays and special occasions like honeymoons.
"Yes, we see a trend that bookings are made much earlier for this year than usual at The Europe Hotel & Resort for the summer months ahead and Irish clients would like to secure their bookings well in advance. As a result the individual bookings for the summer months are looking busier than normal at this time and we can see an increase in bookings accordingly.
"We seem to receive a lot of requests for family rooms and interconnecting rooms for the summer. Apart from this we do have a lot of enquiries for mini moons, honeymoons and special occasions in general for this year. We feel that there is a trend for people to organise a hotel stay well in advance to spend some quality time with their families and so that they have something to look forward to once it is possible to travel again. We very much look forward to welcoming everyone back again to The Europe Hotel & Resort once the time is right."